National Apprenticeship Week Spotlight: Sarah

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week 2019, we ask Business Apprentice Sarah about her experiences and advice for those who are considering what to do once they leave school.

Name: Sarah Toman

What do you do? I am a Business Degree Apprentice at MBDA

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

Whilst studying my A-Levels, I looked into various further education options including the traditional University route, a full-time job and of course, apprenticeships. Despite receiving offers from 4 different universities, I decided to apply for various apprenticeships including the BBC, Tesco and MBDA, which is where I am currently completing my apprenticeship.


There was a certain amount of pressure to apply for different universities and aspire to solely achieve a degree, but I did not feel like this was the right option for me for several reasons. Firstly, I didn't particularly like the idea of studying a single subject with the aim of becoming specialised in one narrow area; I was not (and still am not) convinced of the exact disciple I want to work in permanently, therefore a Business Apprenticeship is perfect for me because I am able to gain valuable experience in various business functions. Another reason for not choosing the traditional degree route included the worry of funding a degree and the associated debt. This is something that I do not have to worry about as a Degree Apprentice as MBDA funds the degree. Finally, and most importantly, I was concerned that I would not be able to get a job once I gained my degree due to lack of work experience. I liked the idea of working and learning at the same time, and from experience, being able to combine the two has been extremely valuable.


What inspired you to work in the industry?

The defence industry is so important and I wanted to make a clear contribution to the important work that occurs. I was interested to see (and still am) how the industry copes with technological change.

What would you say to students who are considering their career options?

I would say, never limit yourself to one option. Look at all of the options that are available to you and apply for as many opportunities as you can. Don’t follow what your friends do, because it is much more important than that. Your career is your own and you have to do what is right for you. If you do decide to do an apprenticeship, make sure you do plenty of research and find one that suits you. If you aren’t sure what specific discipline you want to work in, choose an apprenticeship that helps you to make those decisions and which allows you to build on your skills., for example a rotational scheme where you get to see different areas of the business.

What has been y our most memorable or proudest moment?

Back in October I was awarded the EEF Regional Business Apprentice of the Year in the South of England. In December, I received the National Runner-Up which I was delighted with. It was great to be recognised for my hard work and efforts over the past 2 years.

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What would you say to other women and girls who may be put off joining the industry because of its male-dominance?

I work in an engineering company within the defence industry. It is naturally very male dominated, but this trend is changing slowly but surely. There are becoming more opportunities for women to progress in the industry.